6 ways to support your immune system
As the world slowly emerges out of the pandemic, most people have become experts in hand-washing, social distancing and avoiding those who are sick. But you may be wondering how else to “boost” your immune system.
Dr. Kristen Reynolds, integrative and functional medicine physician at Aurora Wiselives Center for Wellbeing (Aurora UW Academic Medical Group) in Wauwatosa, WI says that we should rethink the idea of “boosting” and focus on “supporting” our immune systems instead by doing these key things:
- Avoid sugar. It can be tempting to binge on sweets, but excess sugar feeds yeast and other undesirable bugs in the gut, where most of your immune system lies. Give your body a fighting chance by eliminating sugar to free up your immune system and strengthen it.
- Eat healthy. Feed your immune system with colorful antioxidant rich foods like oranges, berries, spinach, broccoli, and red peppers which are high in vitamin C. Other immune-supportive foods include ginger, garlic, mushrooms, coconut oil, meats and poultry, which contain nutrients your body needs to stay well.
- Sleep more. 7.5 hours is the minimum amount of sleep to provide maximum support to your immune system. With extended amounts of sleep, the body releases a type of protein called cytokines. These proteins can help regulate the immune system and help fight off infection.
- Get moving. Exercise helps to increase the circulation of white blood cells which can help the body fight off viruses. There are many exercises you can do at home such as jumping jacks and strength conditioning using your own body weight. Walking outdoors and spending time in nature are also great ways to get moving.
- Supplement. Along with healthy foods, supplements can give your immune system additional support. Adding supplements such as vitamins C and D, zinc and melatonin can help you remain well or possibly reduce the severity of symptoms if you do get sick.
- Keep calm. Excess stress suppresses your immunity. If you feel overwhelmed or anxious consider doing breathing exercises, meditation, or activities like yoga, Tai Chi or walking.
Remember that these are recommendations for staying healthy and are not guaranteed to prevent infection.
If you have symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath, visit the COVID-19 Resource Center for information on getting tested or contact your doctor.
About the Author
Latoya Campbell, health enews contributor, is a Public Affairs Coordinator at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has a BS degree in Communications/Broadcast Journalism from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and previously worked in digital and graphic marketing for a public library. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, fitness activities and a good spa day.
You recommend zinc supplement, there are medicine that do not react well with zinc. Best to read about the meds taken to see if there is a statement that zinc is a substance to be avoided.
Vitamin D has been shown to decrease the severity of virus infections especially those with respiratory infections. My physician recommends 5,000 IU per day. I was previously on 2,000 IU per day. I began taking 5,000 a year ago and my blood test for vitamin D showed me at 48 with the maximum in the range at around 70. He stated that everyone he tests is deficient. If you Google Vitamin D you will find many scientific studies showing its benefit for a variety of health issues including a recent study with 11,000 people in 12 different countries showing its effectiveness against viruses. It is more important to the immune system than vitamin C. Probiotics also are very helpful since 80% of your immune system is in your gut.
Edward Jana…Thank you! Very useful information.